Beds o’ Bugs

Flower beds, not sleeping beds. Not that I actually have any flower beds in my jungle but just to say . . none in my bed. Just an excuse to use beds n bugs in a sentence.

So what are bugs? Well, it depends. Hemiptera or true bugs are an order of 80 000 insect species such as cicadas, aphids, planthoppers, leafhoppers and shield bugs. They range in size from 1 mm to around 15 cm. Many insects commonly known as “bugs”, especially in American English, belong to other orders; for example, the ‘lovebug’ is a fly; the ‘May bug’ and ‘ladybug’ are beetles. wikipedia

Again, I must add their identifications once I get around to it.

Next, I should do a post on the beatles . . .

~~~oo0oo~~~

Driveway Drizzle

It’s drizzling and the driveway looks sparkling and green-ish – needs weeding one day – on the brick from my kitchen window, so I took a picture which doesn’t look as good as it does. The camera – or the cameraman – hasn’t captured the mood . .

Yesterday the meadow popped some tiny little flowers when the sun popped out:

Your pinky nail would cover them.

In the drizzle the squeakers (Arthroleptis wahlbergi) are squeaking and the robin is prrrp prupp (Red-capped Robin-chat).

~~~oo0oo~~~

Election Day

Twenty five years ago we stood in this same queue at the same school with Mrs Kiza Cele and voted for freedom from the Nats. Close to River Drive, we walked there that day.

Kiza a couple years later, with Jess

It was a joyous day. Some of the joy has faded, but then age always brings a fading. After voting I took some pics in the garden at 10 Elston. We’ve been here thirteen years now, catching up with the fifteen years we spent at River Drive.

A Wasp, a Dragonfly, a Butterfly, a Carpenter Bee and a Cycad

Garden Bugs

Oops! Almost wet a shield bug when relieving meself in the garden. Had my cellphone on me so took some pics of him and two of his friends. A yellow and black jumping spider moved off before I could snap him.

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The shield bug is about the size of a fingernail. The pupa and the brown, orange and black moth are tiny. *click on the pic*

Golden Mole

Hey Dad! What’s that in the pool!? shouts Jess this morning. It’s a mole, swimming rather desperately, gulping for air every so often, head underwater between. I rush for the poolnet and get him onto the lawn where he starts burrowing under the grass right away.
Well saved, Jessie!

golden molegolden molegolden mole 3

Remember: Golden moles: Tiny teeth, eat insects & worms;

Mole rats: Big external teeth, eat plants;

Don’t harm either of them. Allow them in your gardens. Please. Your lawn or garden need NOT be ‘perfect’. In fact ‘perfect’ gardens are a sure sign of cruelty.

Mole rat mole rat

wu wei

My garden is a wonderful tangle of KwaZulu indigenous growth gone wild. Interfered with only by my best man Tobias Gumede’s earnestly-felt desire to do something. Recently he trimmed the undergrowth near the birdbath and the spot where beautiful turquoise Araneus apricus spins her web each night and takes it down every morning.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had to sit him down and remind him: Tobias, remember when we listened to the yellow-bellied greenbul’s complaints and you told me how it was saying “Don’t shoot the birds, it’s Spring and they’re nesting”, and how you would teach the kids in Jozini not to shoot birds in that season – and how they did anyway!?
Well, its Summer, and remember: We don’t trim or cut anything till the season fades and we’re sure no birds or other creatures are nesting. And even then we do it with great circumspection? Oh Yes, He Does Remember and Sorry, He Forgot.

But he forgot again and as I was leaving he asked Can You Buy Me A Rake? Um, what for, Tobias? Oh, Yes, He Forgot, We Don’t Rake. Right.

Well, I mention this because I have recently found out that unbeknown to me, I garden according to the ancient principle of wu wei. I mean, I always suspected my method was brilliant, but wu wei! That is brill. Its the Zen (or Tao? – or something . . ) art of “masterful inactivity”.

I love it: “The Art Of Masterful Inactivity”! Wu wei! I can do this!

I’m reading a book by Esther Woolfson who lives in Aberdeen in Scotland called Field Notes from a Hidden City. The review of her book made me want to write about all the wonderful hidden creatures in my garden and generally in Westville, so I bought it with the express intention of plagiarising it. I’ve got to the part where she writes about wu wei and I’m right behind her.

I read a lot about books and then occasionally I buy one and actually read the whole thing. Often the book review is better than the book. I bought Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck by Eric G Wilson. Well, it was a very good review.

Back to plagiarism: I will write to Esther and tell her what I’m doing if I get the book done. My wu wei credentials are not confined to gardening, however, so she may be safe.

Here’s the manicured bit for soccer, rugby and biking, with refuges for creatures in front and behind. When the kids stop swimming the pool will be made more frog-friendly. Made? Well, Allowed To Go frog-friendly . . . .

Jess MTB small

So how did I know the beautiful little turquoise orb spider I found in my garden was Araneus apricus? I went to my saucers. This one is seldom in her cups: My favourite entomologist Tanza said:

Hi Pete – I think she is Araneus apricus, a little orb spider. Most are nocturnal, spinning their webs in the early evening and then removing them in the morning. Maybe she got out of bed late . . . ; It is probably a “she” as the males are often (but not always) smaller.- Tanz

I first met Tanza when she was working with social spiders on the Hella Hella bridge over the Umkomaas river. Hundreds of them obligingly spun webs between the aluminium railings, allowing Tanza to mark and measure at leisure. Usually they’d be in tangled bushes!

They’re fascinating.

That grassland can kill you, man!

Bill lives in one of the council houses at the bottom of our cul de sac. Nice chap. I think he worked for the eThekwini corpse, and I’m guessing  that’s how he got to rent here. But I’m guessing.

Nice chap. Worried about people not doing things the way he wants them, and always quick to point out anything wrong.

Comes up to me in the PnP supermarket this weekend and says:

DO I KNOW!? He saw a big mfezi in my garden! AND:

Do I know what an mfezi is?!

Wow! That’s great! A Mocambique spitting cobra, Bill! Where’d you see it?
In your garden.
Yes, but where? I’d love to see it.
That thing can kill you man!

Actually I think what Bill means is “You should cut your grass!” See, I have sections of neatly-mown lawn. But I also have meadow, and a beautiful section of grassland, and it’s visible from the gate.

10 Elston Garden Jan'14 (9)
– lush meadows –

So sadly, no mfezi in my garden, I don’t think.

I haven’t told Bill about the concept of wu wei – “Masterful Inactivity.” Don’t want him to think I’m weird.But you can learn about my secret vice here.

Elston Garden Xmas Day 2018
– these guys love my meadows –

~~~oo0oo~~~

A Whip Around The Garden

I was actually looking for a pregnant chameleon. Didn’t spot her, but snapped flowers, including some non-indigenous interlopers – Aitch was a softie towards the end, and allowed some strange plants in.

Also a (deceased) bush squeaker and a grasshopper – which reminds me: I must tell you the story of grasshoppers one day . . .

– poor Arthroleptis wahlbergi drowned –

~~~~~ooo000ooo~~~~~